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The latest health breakthroughs from the doctors you can trust

Health Benefits of Vitamin E

vitamin e oil benefitsVitamin E Oil Health Benefits

In recent years, we’ve seen an increased emphasis on “natural products.” Hair and skin products, moisturizers, and a number of oils and creams are including vitamins E in their formula to appeal to an apparently more health-conscious consumer. One of the more current “it” products is vitamin E oil. The benefits of vitamin E oil are rather extensive; it can be used for hair, stretch marks and scars, as well as moisturizer.

But are the benefits of vitamin E oil as extensive as marketing companies would lead you to believe? The truth is that it’s still up in the air. Some research has shown the topical application of vitamin E oil to dark spots, scars, and stretch marks can provide healing, while others show it has little impact. And as much as the benefits of vitamin E oil are touted, vitamin E supplementation has come under scrutiny in the past, as numerous studies have shown it can be a real concern for people with certain types of cancer.

Keep in mind that the risks associated with vitamin E are with high doses of oral supplements, and that’s not what we’re talking about.

Furthermore, when it comes to using vitamin E-infused skin care products, leave them on the store shelf and opt for real sources. Many of the formulas sold in mixed products are either synthetic or have limited bioavailability, nullifying any of the benefits that might be derived from using natural vitamin E oil.

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The Importance of Bioavailability

What is bioavailability? Bioavailability is basically a way to determine how effectively a nutrient is absorbed. Whereas some people say, “You are what you eat,” it’s more like “You are what you absorb.” And whether you’re taking food or supplements orally, or rubbing them on your skin, some sources will be better than others.

For example, both eggs and beans have protein. A half-cup of black beans contains 19.5 grams of protein, while a half cup of egg whites has 14 grams. At first glance, the beans seem like a better protein source. But even though eggs have less protein, they are a better source because they have higher bioavailability—meaning your body will absorb more protein from eating egg whites than it will from eating the beans. Furthermore, proteins from animal sources are better than proteins from plant sources, much like vitamin E is better from natural sources than it is when it’s been extracted or produced synthetically.

Health Benefits of Vitamin E Oil

Vitamin E oil is used most commonly as a way to improve the appearance and texture of your skin. Some people look at it as a form of the “fountain of youth” and they swear by it. Now, I’ve heard similar from claims from people who use coconut oil, almond oil, and other oils, but in actuality, vitamin E is an ingredient in a number of such oils—except coconut oil—so it might play a major role.

Why vitamin E oil might be so beneficial for skin has to do with the fact that it’s an antioxidant. Antioxidants fight against cellular damage and mutations to maintain the integrity of your cells, aid in immune function, and potentially improve damaged skin.

A topical cream or oil, therefore, would absorb into an affected area—say a scar, stretch mark, or sunburn—and work to repair the damaged skin to relieve discoloration and strengthen the area. Is it a magic eraser? No. But it can potentially make a difference to improve the look of your skin.

Vitamin E for Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are the result of skin stretching as you grow. They are small lines that look like scars and can appear almost anywhere. Some of the most common spots for stretch marks are around the abdomen, hips, thighs, butt, upper arms, and breasts. They are typically formed with pregnancy or weight gain—basically anything that causes the skin to stretch.

Vitamin E oil can be a beneficial treatment—or even preventative measure—for stretch marks because it can help with your skin’s elasticity and add moisture to cells. And as we mentioned before, its antioxidant properties can help repair damaged cells. If you’ve got stretch marks you’d like to get rid of, you can try boosting dietary vitamin E by eating more almonds, olive oil, wheat germ oil, and other cereals, or you can apply the oils directly to your skin. Over time, stretch marks should lighten and become increasingly less noticeable. However, if it worsens the condition, stop using it.

Vitamin E for Scars

Vitamin E can help prevent and heal stretch marks—it is also effective in treating scars. Because of its skin-strengthening, moisturizing, and antioxidant capabilities, it can penetrate below the surface of a scar to stimulate healing. The presence of additional vitamin E can bolster your immune system and stimulate collagen production, doing its best to limit the appearance of scars at the surface and build back strong skin.

When it comes to using vitamin E to treat scars, I would recommend moving slowly. There is research indicating it has no effect on healing scars, and in some cases can actually worsen the appearance of scars. One study found that using d-alpha-tocopherol made no impact in 90% of users who applied it to scars, while 33% developed contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash; it’s not dangerous or life threatening, but it’s very irritating.

If you want to try a vitamin E oil to get rid of scars, give it a try. That said, please monitor it very carefully, because there is a very real chance it could cause a painful, irritating reaction.

Vitamin E Oil for Hair

Vitamin E may also have benefits for your hair. There are some who contend it promotes hair growth, while it has also been found to have a moisturizing effect on dry hair.

When it comes to hair growth, vitamin E might be beneficial because it can stimulate capillary growth. Capillary growth leads to improved blood and oxygen circulation, which is very valuable to hair growth. People have shown hair loss when circulation is diminished, and therefore, the thinking is that if circulation is improved, the process should be reversed. If you’d like to try and stimulate hair growth, try eating more vitamin E-rich foods or applying vitamin E oil to the affected area. A word of advice, though: there is some evidence showing that vitamin E oil can increase the risk for sunburn—specifically tocopheryl acetate. Therefore, avoid applying it before going out in the sun. Instead, make sure you’ll be inside for a while or put it on before bed.

Because of its moisturizing capabilities, vitamin E oil is also used to treat dry and damaged hair. It’s probably best to include more vitamin E in your diet to treat the cause, but rubbing some vitamin E oil in your hair after washing can help to soften the hair and moisturize the scalp. The external application can help, but try to think of it as a band-aid remedy. The reason why your hair is damaged and dry is likely caused by dietary measures, so improving your diet and emphasizing a higher intake of vitamin E can solve the root of the problem and produce better, longer-lasting results.

How Much Vitamin E Do You Need Per Day?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it’s dissolved in fat and stored in body tissue. Because fat-soluble vitamins are stored in body tissue, they can accumulate to dangerous levels over time and produce negative effects. Water-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, need to be consumed daily in order to receive adequate amounts. Whatever isn’t absorbed isn’t stored in tissue, but rather excreted via sweat and urine.

Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, you do want to monitor how much you’re getting rather carefully. The daily recommended intake for adults is 15 mg (22.4 IU). You can go over the recommended daily allowance and likely experience little or no problems, but it’s still worth paying attention to. Lastly, if you smoke I would advise against taking vitamin E supplements. Vitamin E supplementation has been found to significantly progress prostate cancer in people who smoke.

The Best Sources of Vitamin E

The best place to get vitamin E oil is from nutrition, but supplements in liquid-gel capsules and oil can be purchased, too. For a topical rub, you can buy vitamin E oils or break the capsule on liquid gels, or even rub the vegetable oil or wheat germ oil (and other varieties as you’ll see) to get a similar effect. But my recommendation is to get it from natural dietary sources.

Food Milligrams (mg) per serving % of daily value
Wheat germ oil, 1 tablespoon 20.3 100
Sunflower seeds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 7.4 37
Almonds, dry, roasted, 1 ounce 6.8 34
Sunflower oil, 1 tablespoon 5.6 28
Safflower oil, 1 tablespoon 4.6 25
Hazelnuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce 4.3 22
Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons 2.9 15
Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce 2.2 11
Corn oil, 1 tablespoon 1.9 10
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup 1.9 10
Broccoli, chopped, boiled, ½ cup 1.2 6
Soybean oil, 1 tablespoon 1.1 6
Kiwi, 1 medium 1.1 6
Mango, sliced, ½ cup 0.7 4
Tomato, raw, 1 medium 0.7 4
Spinach, raw, 1 cup 0.6 3

Vitamin E Oil: It’s Worth a Try!

Vitamin E is an essential vitamin and you need it for optimal health; this is undisputed. It’s effectiveness in working as a topical oil or rub for specific conditions like hair growth, scar removal, and eliminating stretch marks is debatable, as the body of research is inconsistent. However, you’ll never know if it works for you unless you try. Monitor usage and stop if you notice irritation or a rash, and remember to opt for natural sources when you can!

Sources:
“Vitamin E,” National Institutes of Health web site, June 5, 2013; http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/, last accessed July 29, 2015.
Grimes, M., “Vitamin E Grows Hair,” Natural News web site, January 29, 2010; http://www.naturalnews.com/028050_vitamin_E_hair.html, last accessed July 29, 2015.
Baumann, L., “The effects of topical vitamin E on the cosmetic appearance of scars,” Pan Dermatologic Surgery 1999; 25(4):311-5.
“Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, (SELECT): Questions and Answers,” National Cancer Institute web site, October 31, 2008; http://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/research/select-trial-results-qa, last accessed July 29, 2014.
“Can Vitamin E really help stretch marks?” Stretchmarks1.com, August 8, 2011; http://stretchmarks1.com/News/Can_Vitamin_E_Really_Help_Stretch_Marks, last accessed July 29, 2015.

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